Despite the best efforts of well-intentioned REALTORS®, disagreements still occur. While less formal, faster, and less expensive than litigation, arbitration and ethics hearings are not without cost in both time and money on the part of the parties.
Mediation is an alternative to arbitration and formal ethics hearings; however, all parties to a dispute must voluntarily agree to use it.
Both parties are offered mediation prior to the review of the complaint by the Grievance Committee. Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution in which aggrieved parties have the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with the guidance and assistance of a trained third-party intermediary. The Principals meet with a Mediation Officer (Mediator) of the association and attempt to negotiate a settlement of the dispute. The decision is binding only by mutual agreement of all parties.
Mediation— you can have a voice in the outcome
Mediation is a service provided by every board/association of REALTORS®. Unlike a hearing, in which the parties present their cases to a panel whose decision is final and binding, mediation brings the disputing parties together in an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and conciliation, encouraging them to work together to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.
Mediation can be a positive experience for those who participate because, rather than a "winner" and a "loser" being determined by a panel, in mediation the parties work together, guided by a Mediator, to fashion their own solution. Mediation frequently results in a positive outcome for all parties.
GAR has trained Mediators who act as facilitators/intermediaries. These are REALTORS® who are experienced and adept in dispute resolution techniques. While Mediators often have personal "styles", their primary objective is to help each party appreciate the position of the other party, then to move them forward toward an amicable resolution.
Detailed information about mediation is in the National Association of REALTORS's® Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual. Specific information about the procedures for initiating mediation can be obtained by contacting Desirae Lindquist, Director of Operations, via email: Desirae@GallatinRealtors.com or by phone at 406-585-0033 ext. 1003.
The mediation process
A mediation session is fundamentally simple. The Mediator uses various techniques to encourage the parties to explore, understand, and appreciate each others' position. The most desirable solution is one crafted by the parties themselves through cooperative effort.
When the parties reach an agreement, the agreement is put in writing and signed. If the parties are unable to reach a mutually acceptable solution, the Mediator can recommend a solution that the parties can subsequently consider.
If the mediation attempt is unsuccessful, or if either party wishes to discontinue the mediation process for any reason, then mediation will be terminated and the complaint will be referred to the Grievance Committee for review. If mediation is successful, the $500 arbitration filing fee, if applicable, is refunded to both parties.
The fact that at times mediation does not produce the desired result does not diminish its value to REALTORS® and to boards/associations. There will be instances when REALTORS® mediate in good faith but, for one reason or another, are simply unable to reach a joint agreement or accept the solution proposed by the Mediator.
In such cases, the alternative is a decision imposed on the parties by a panel after a hearing. While this may be the only answer, a mutually fashioned, mutually agreed-upon solution to disagreements between REALTORS® is the preferred outcome.